Shortly, two particular groups of Mets Fans will be coming into direct conflict with each other over the near future and direction of Mets pitching.
To open, I will say – Leave Chris Schwinden alone. To say he had two consecutive ineffective starts is putting things mildly. I’m with you. And trust me, it is not beneath me to call someone a bad player or pitcher, and enjoy doing so. I will if and when the opportunities arise. But in the case of Chris Schwinden, there’s an awful lot of displaced angst that’s unfairly being dumped upon him. After two starts, he’s already endured too much abuse by fans and Media alike.
First I’d argue, lack of depth (an available 6th starting candidate) at either the major league level, or the minor league level, or both, are
matters to be taken-up with your General Manager, and not taken-out on Chris Schwinden. If you have an issue with Schwinden, then you have an issue with Sandy Alderson’s unyielding insistence in trying to squeeze a comeback out of Chris Young. When in fact, the guy is a lemon. There.
But, I do not have such issues with the General Manager. Let’s be honest – Chris Schwinden and Sandy Alderson are not what this is all about. At the heart of our collective anxieties over losing Mike Pelfrey, and what Chris Schwinden has offered so far is fan impetuousness. That’s right. I said it. Haste makes waste. And there in lies the underlying root cause for any disgust with Chris Schwinden. The Mets have pitching prospects in the minors who will soon start to get pulled in two directions like an old Stretch Armstrong toy.
What should have remained safely in the distance, now lurks just beyond the Mets’ horizon. How long before Mets fans start demanding the club tap into the, believed to be, collection of quality pitchers they’ve assembled over the recent years. Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia, Zach Wheeler, Matt Harvey, are at the “four front” of any conversation regarding the Mets future arsenal. Cries for a promotion can already be heard. Every ineffective inning fans endure from any Mike Pelfrey replacement who doesn’t go by the names mentioned above, will soon cause static within the fan base. Be sure, if they haven’t already.
On one side are fans who want these pitchers pushed through the system and eventually winding up on the club by mid-summer. If not all four pitchers, the more logical thinkers are still hopeful of at least two of them. But one pitcher seems like a must.
In fairness to that thinking, with the new playoff format, it has become a growing sentiment to suggest the Mets have a chance at gaining at least a second wild card spot. A strong month of April always seeds possibilities for mid-August. And if the Mets can get to that point, and the door is cracked open, then, sure, try and swing the door open. For argument sake, what other reasons that side of the debate cling to are hereby declared fair. This is your team too.
But here is where I stand. I believe we are a rebuilding team with a plan in place. I believe in having a plan. I believe in this plan. And I believe we must implement this plan with discipline if it is to work. Striving for the outer fringes of mediocrity is not my thing. Playing in a one game wild card playoff just doesn’t call me. I’m a traditionalist. And that means winning division titles is mission one.
If I had my way, not a single pitcher mentioned above so much as touches a major league mound any earlier than the 2013 September call-ups.
I believe staying in the minor leagues that one more season than you’d like is akin to staying four years in college basketball. The polish on a four year collegiate versus a freshman or sophomore is clearly more evident, not to mention, a more mature and complete player. I have an aversion towards on the job training on the major league level if it can be avoided.
There are a few connections that can be made between what the Mets have going, and with how the Oakland A’s continually crank out strong pitchers, to what exactly went wrong with the Mets’ own Generation-K, and more recently, how the Yankees utterly mismanaged the development of Joba, Phil Hughes, and Ian Kennedy. For instance, Joba was promoted after a mere eighty-eight innings pitched in the minors, only to be held back with Joba Rules. Two of the three remaining young Yankee pitchers continue to have more problems than a math book. And when you include Ian Kennedy, all three were injured while in Pinstripes. It took Ian Kennedy’s Escape From New York, before he finally thrived in Arizona.
Those examples deserve deeper looks. But I chose to make the following comparisons instead.
Look at the New York Giants. They thrive in the draft. The Jets do not. The Giants tread very lightly in the free agent market, while the Jets are high rollers. Which of the two teams enjoy the greater success? Look at the New York Rangers. They have sold out to the draft and development. Look at them now. This is where the Mets are – in the process of a youth movement and trying to build towards that kind of success. The Mets team of the 2006-2010 era more resembled the current Knicks team – a bunch of imported and often injured, lost souls.
The Yankees are the classic clash of both systems – youth building and purchasing talent. Their core is almost all retired, or will be soon. The Yankees haven’t promoted with plenty since the late 1990’s. In order to win their 2009 World Series, they spent around half a billion dollars in one off-season to purchase C.C.Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J.Burnett.
The Mets are done with the latest era of spending and yearly fixes. That was such a transient way to run a ball club. We are developers now looking to build something that lasts. Development takes time and patience. Resist the temptation to call for the organization’s top talent prematurely in exchange for a rather unspectacular payoff in the end. If we are indeed rebuilding, the process is worth doing right, from the start. Lest we repeat our own errors, and those made by other teams before us.
I’m a stickler for following a plan and seeing it through. Do not call up any of these pitchers this season.